This book explores the ways in which dress has been influential in the political agendas and self-representations of politicians in a variety of regimes from democratic to authoritarian. Arguing that dress is part of 'hard core' politics, it shows how dress has been crucial to the constructions of nationhood and national identities in both Asia and the Americas. Since dress has been a marker of identity and status, chapters engage with the gendering of the politics of dress, discussing how women have become bearers and wearers of 'national tradition' and how men and women's dress reflect their political positions in the nation-state. It examines the magical power of cloth, the meanings of batik and design, the holy status of uncut cloth versus cut cloth, and the quaint combination of non-Western with Western attire. This collection of pioneering essays fills a vacuum in the largely Eurocentric field of dress studies, demanding that attention be paid to Asia and the Americas as major sites of vestimentary creativity.